Friday, July 6, 2007

Integration As Anachronism

The Supreme Court has ushered us, kicking and screaming, into the "color blind" phase of our great national journey toward unification of our various races. No more using race as a criteria for school assignments of children.

Liberals are shell shocked. Who knew that their doomsday prophecies of a Bush appointed Court would actually come true? They certainly seem surprised themselves. Much bemoaning of our social failure to have resettled into racially proportionate neighborhoods, and hopeful predictions that schools will find sham proxies for race, such as income, to achieve "racial balance." Good luck with that.

Conservatives, ever better organized, seem to have had their talking points at the ready. Without a trace of irony, and impressively straight faced, they spout in unison that the Court's decision is right and correct, because judging people by race is "immoral." Well, who's to argue with that?

This would be a good time for a period of national reflection on who we are as a Nation. It seems that we are not ready to become one race quite yet, though the lines around the edges are blurrier than ever. Perhaps this is a time for us to live side by side. We can learn to love each other as neighbors. We still have a way to go with that lesson.

Let us take this time to retell our national story. Look back at our American history and discern the theme that tells us what it all means. Forty years ago in Massachusetts, the story taught was of the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were the embodiment of the beginnings of America. Their story of reform minded fundamentalist Christians escaping religious persecution and secular corruption was told to many classrooms filled with Catholic and Episcopalian schoolchildren. The irony was lost. Questions about the inherent cognitive dissonance were dismissed as trouble making.

We need to tell a true story that fits us all. Without fear of offending those who even today worship our historical villains. Hero worship of our historical villains is still a problem. Ask Trent Lott.

The theme of America is the elevation of all mankind. This seemed clear to us in World War II when as a nation we rejoiced in the victory of our "regular Joes" over the Nazi "supermen."

That's our story. Let's tell it to each other.